It was only after her grandmother’s death that Maniucha Bikont discovered the full extent of her secret. Lea Horovitz had decided to escape incarceration in Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto in 1940 after overhearing two shopkeepers comment “she doesn’t look like a zduva” (a “yid”) on spotting the Star of David on her coat.

“She realized in that moment she should rip off her badge and buy a new identity,” says 26-year old Bikont, sitting in a cafe in Warsaw as she retells her grandmother’s extraordinary, but by no means unique, tale. And so it was that Horovitz survived Nazi-occupied Warsaw hiding behind the make-believe Polish persona of Wilhelmina Skulska, who went on to become a successful writer of detective novels.

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